You should read this terrific post that Geoff Livingston has written for Mashable on social media lessons from the Haitian earthquake. There’s a ton of food for thought there.

But I’m following the Wyclef Jean/Yéle Haiti story closely and today saw this report in Gawker.

While I’m not jumping to conclusions (I’ll leave that to the appropriate authorities), I do think there are enough valid questions to make me think that non-profits should be extremely concerned about the long-term impact on fundraising.

Which, let’s face it, determines whether they get to carry out their mission effectively or not.

Here’s how I responded to Geoff’s post:

Nice post, Geoff. I think the other really important lesson here is that while the immediacy that social media allows is breathtaking, it is equally, if not more, important to do your research before using these channels and committing to a path, because it could potentially have far-reaching consequences. I write this in context of the Wyclef Jean/Yéle Haiti “rumblings,” which are growing louder by the day (and as you know, did a brief post on this last week). Day by day more organizations are bringing Yéle Haiti on as a recipient of fundraisers, telethons, etc., yet there is justifiable speculation as to the workings of this organization.

Please understand I am not pointing a finger at Mr. Jean personally; I have no doubt he has the best of intentions. But the desire to do good and administering effective relief operations are completely different things. If it turns out that all is well with Yéle Haiti, no one will be more relieved than me. But if not, a very many people will feel let down, which might, in turn, affect fundraising initiatives for non-profits, particularly of smaller/upcoming organizations; and possibly even the way they use social media in the future.

What do you think? Am I over-thinking this? Nothing to worry about? Please share your thoughts, over at Geoff’s post, or below, or both.

Image: IFRC/Eric Quintero

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke